Wednesday 21 March 2018

Travel chaos as bus strike leaves tens of thousands stranded and disruption spreads to rail services

  • Bus services at a standstill
  • Rail services also disrupted
  • Striking drivers have 'nothing to lose' - union
  • Strike to cost €500k per day
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot on Friday March 24
Pic:Mark Condren
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot on Friday March 24 Pic:Mark Condren
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot this morning. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary at the Bus Éireann strike at Broadstone bus depot this morning. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot this morning. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot this morning. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot this morning. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Bus Éireann workers strike at Broadstone bus depot this morning. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017 Newsdesk Newsdesk

Irish Rail passengers have been warned of major disruption due to the Bus Éireann strike today but Dublin Bus avoided a similar contagion across services by pulling its fleet out of a shared depot.

Bus Éireann Drivers stopped working at midnight across the country and the disruption has now spread to the rail network due to picketing related to the dispute.

There will be no service on the following routes:

Limerick to Limerick Junction (including Limerick to Dublin direct services), Waterford to Limerick Junction, Limerick to Galway, Limerick to Ballybrophy via Nenagh.

Meanwhile the following routes will have limited services:

  • Dublin/Sligo: reduced timetable, with services operating between Dublin and Longford/Boyle only. Please note 17.15 and 18.05 Connolly to Longford commuter services will operate.
  • Dublin/Waterford: reduced timetable, with services operating between Dublin and Kilkenny only.
  • Dublin/Galway: reduced timetable will operate between Dublin and Galway.
  • Dublin/Rosslare: reduced timetable will operate between Dublin and Wexford/Rosslare Europort.  Evening commuters should note the only service scheduled to operate at this time is 17.36hrs Connolly to Wexford.
  • Tralee to Mallow/Cork/Dublin: reduced timetable will operate

DART, Dublin and Cork Commuter, Westport and Belfast routes are currently operating as normal.

A number of trains have been cancelled this morning and passengers are advised to check in with Irish Rail for information on their route.

Fans travelling to the Republic of Ireland v Wales Clash in the Aviva will also be affected with the connecting train to Limerick not operating.

The Dublin/Cork, Dublin/Galway, Dublin/Sligo, Dublin/Waterford, Dublin/Rosslare, Dublin/Limerick Junction will run and the special trains, the 23.15train from Dublin Heuston to Cork and 23.25 train from Dublin Heuston to Galway will operate.

There will be a full DART and Commuter service operating, including extra services before and after match.

As per the normal match arrangements trains will not stop at Grand Canal Dock Station between 21.10 and 22.35.

Bus Éireann tickets are not valid on Iarnród Éireann services during the dispute and commuters have been warned to expect a higher demand on services.

Cancelled trains (Irish Rail website)
Cancelled trains (Irish Rail website)

Bus Éireann staff share six depots across the country with Irish Rail, while another is shared with Dublin Bus at Broadstone.

Meanwhile, Dublin Bus prevented a contagion by pulling its fleet out of the station last night and moving it to Harristown.

“The site is split in two ordinarily, and there is a Phibsboro 1 and Phibsboro 2 depot,” one Dublin Bus worker explained.

“Bus Eireann operated from Phibsboro 2 as well as some of the Dublin Bus services, but management prevented a potential situation occurring by pulling Dublin Bus out of Phibsboro and moving the fleet to Harristown and the control centre to Phibsboro 1, both of which are outside the picket line,” he added.

This morning there was no sign of animosity between the drivers of Dublin Bus and their Bus Éireann counterparts.

“They have our full support but we in Dublin Bus are not in dispute so we are working as normal,” the Dublin Bus worker explained.

But while contagion to Dublin Bus was prevented, the same could not be said for train services, with many routes affected around the country when train drivers refused to cross picket lines of Bus Eireann drivers in locations where they share facilities.

Train drivers in Cork will return to work at 11am and Cork/Heuston and Cork commuter services will resume.

Irish Rail is relaying live information to customers on their Twitter feed.

"We are running what we can run... in a number of locations there are pickets that our employees have decided not to pass," Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny told Morning Ireland.

"We had hoped to have  a more extensive service today."

Staff who opt not to cross the picket line will not be paid he confirmed.

"Obviously if people don't work they don't get paid and people do understand that," he said.

Refunds will be provided to anyone who had pre-booked a ticket but there is no compensation for alternative arrangements made by customers.

The company will update customers later on scheduled additional services for the Republic of Ireland clash against Wales in the Aviva. The services cannot be guaranteed the company said.

There are no additional rail services to replace the missing bus services.

The company has noted that it is not party to the dispute.

Meanwhile, Dublin Bus services are operating as normal.

Speaking this morning to Newstalk Breakfast, Siptu organiser Willie Noone, said drivers were prepared to see the company collapse because they feel they have "nothing to lose".

"This is not like any other dispute that we have had in regards to pay or any other issues in recent years," he said.

"This is a fundamental issue about decent conditions in a workplace."

When asked to comment on the possibility that the industrial action would force the company to go under Mr Noone said:

"We have explained this to our membership that this is a concern that we have on their behalf and they have indicated to us that it's not really much of a choice, working for a company on rates of pay that they can't survive on.

"Do they continue to subsidize pubic transport on their backs or on their families' backs?

"Some of those people have clearly said to us that if it it means Bus Éireann has to go broke well so be it because they have nothing to lose at this stage," he added.

The all-out strike action will be in place indefinitely, with union sources saying that there is no indication of both sides going to the negotiation table any time soon.

Most bus services are at a standstill but some services, including school buses are operating.  Unions have warned that school buses could also be drawn into the dispute "very quickly".

The, Eurolines and cross-Border Translink operated services are still expected to run despite the striek action according to the company.

The Cork to Dublin GoBe services will not operate and the late-night specials from Cork and Galway to Dublin will run for Ireland fans travelling home from the game.

The dispute centres on cuts to pay and the threat of job losses.

Stephen Kent, Chief Commercial Officer at Bus Éireann, told RTE Morning Ireland that school bus services and and Euroline services and some Translink services are operating.

"I just want to sincerely apologise on behalf of the company to all of the customers who are discommoded by the action and the inconvenience caused to them today."

Mr Kent said the company faces a grave financial outlook.

"We are in a position where 40pc of our costs are made up by our payroll and eventually we had to look at our payroll and to address that and that is really the focus of the dispute."

He continued: "The board of management are looking at a situation that is actually deteriorating rather than improving."

He stopped short of saying he would call the examiner in.

"Our losses will amount to an additional €500,000 each day so that is an issue. The directors will have to take all the necessary action so they can look after the business and make sure it has a viable future."

A spokeswoman for Bus Éireann said the company's losses had already jumped by 41pc in January and February on the same period last year - and losses in 2016 were €9.4m.

Bus Éireann is expected to lose €500,000 on each day of the strike.

A multi vehicle crash on the N7 at the Rathcoole junction is also causing delays for drivers this morning.

In Cork emergency services are also on route to a car on fire on the M8 on the Dublin/Cork Road southbound at junction 14.

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